Office of Civil Defense denies being choke point for donations

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) clarified on Thursday, April 2, that the government does not prohibit direct donations – to public or private hospitals, or to any government agency – of equipment, supplies, and any item intended to help quell the coronavirus pandemic.

The OCD’s mandate to “consolidate all donations to the national government and the Department of Health” only means it keeps an inventory of all relevant items given to national government agencies, and redistributes them if necessary, it said.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administrative Order (AO) 27, which defines the OCD’s role in the government’s response to the pandemic, “does not bar direct donations to other departments, bureaus, offices, state colleges or universities, government-owned or controlled corporations, or government hospitals or medical facilities,” said Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, OCD Administrator.

“Private institutions and individuals are still encouraged to continue assisting COVID-19 frontliners and hospitals through their own donation initiatives. AO 27 merely directs donees to inform OCD of their received donations to ensure equitable allocation and distribution of assistance,” added Jalad.

Section 1 of AO 27 states that agencies and institutions operated by the national government may continue to accept donations of medicines, medical equipment, and supplies, and other health products intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic. They also do not necessarily have to hand donations over to the OCD.

These agencies and institutions, however, are required to “immediately report” the donations they receive to the OCD which, under Section 2 of AO 27, may decide to reallocate those donations to other agencies or establishments – even private ones – that may need them more.

They’ve done it before

The OCD is the implementing arm of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which mobilizes government agencies in responding to typhoons, earthquakes, and other calamities.

Jalad, who is also Executive Director of the NDRRMC, said the OCD’s role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic is no different from its tasks in the aftermath of the recent earthquakes in Mindanao and the eruption of Taal Volcano, which included managing donations.

“The said donations were directly provided to affected local government units. In the case of the COVID-19 response efforts, the supplies, both procured by OCD and those donated by various individuals and organizations, were directly given to COVID-19 attending hospitals,” Jalad said.

Not to Malasakit Centers

Jalad also denied rumors that the OCD had been channeling donations to Malasakit Centers – social welfare kiosks at national government hospitals that are a pet project of Senator Bong Go, Duterte’s right-hand man.

Several photos earlier circulated on social media purporting to show items donated through the OCD bearing Go’s name.

Jalad called the posts “false and malicious.”

“Senator Bong Go does not and will not interfere with the task of the OCD. We are well-informed through our communication with their office that Senator Go connects private donors directly to their intended beneficiaries and helps facilitate the delivery of the donations,” Jalad said.

The OCD and NDRRMC are supervised by the Department of National Defense, which Duterte designated to lead the implementation of the national government’s policies on dealing with the pandemic.

National Task Force COVID-19, headed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, is the composite body formed to operationalize those policies. It utilizes the organizational structure of the NDRRMC and OCD. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.

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